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Scottish aristocrat to take Vatican backed Passion play to notorious Italian prison

The Passion of Jesus performed by the Wintershall Players in Trafalgar Square (PA)

Sir Jack Stewart-Clark has won the Vatican’s approval to take a play dramatising the last days of Christ to a notorious Italian jail.

The former member of the European Parliament, plans to take the Passion play to the high-security Opera jail, in Milan.

Opera is home to some of Italy’s leading Mafia figures, including Salvatore “Toto” Riina, who is said to have ordered the murders of hundreds of people, including policemen and judges.

The project, according to the Herald Scotland, has been backed by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture following the intervention of Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley, a former aide to both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI.

The play will be produced by both Sir Jack’s Dundas Foundation and the Euro Passione per Italia, an organisation that puts on productions telling the story of Christ and Easter Week.

Businessmen Peter Hutley, who has previously staged Passion plays in London’s Trafalgar Square, is slated to direct the play.

The Milan Opera is the latest in a series of plays by Sir Jack Stewart-Clark, others include the Passion at his own castle using his loch for scenes of Jesus walking on water, as well as a shortened story for Greenock Prison.

The play has also been staged in Uganda, Brazil and Louisiana State Penitentiary in the USA.

The Life of Christ was performed in the prison by inmates, 85 per cent of who are serving life sentences.

Sir Jack, 86, has previously said he believes dramatising the life of Christ can help with prisoner’s rehabilitation as well as change people’s views of prisoners saying inmates “can become redeemed in prison, even if you’re never getting out.”

The aim is to stage the play during the Year of Mercy.

Sir Jack said: “The prison has 6,000 inmates and it is hoped that the play will be performed by a cast chosen from these inmates.”

Speaking to the Herald Scotland, Archbishop Cushley said he was delighted to have been able to give the “vision” the hearing it deserved at the Vatican.

He said: “Sir Jack is clearly a man with a passion for the Passion…I am sure that the Italians will respond very willingly and positively to this very exciting and worthwhile project to celebrate the life of Christ.”

Suzanna Lofthus, artistic director of Cutting Edge Theatre, will be supervising director of the play, which will be performed in Italian.